5 Ways Influencers Make Money Online
Making a living from your digital content as an influencer requires more than a sizeable following. Finding the marketing strategy that connects you with the right advertisers and sponsors while resonating with your audience can require some trial and error. More and more people are moving online to make money, however, and the rise of the social influencer is hard to miss. So how do they do it?
Influencers are all over our social media feeds, sharing pictures of themselves on idyllic beach getaways, sampling incredible dishes at the latest trendy eateries, or modelling brand new outfits from the hottest designers.
How do they afford this lifestyle if every day is spent sunning themselves and sipping cocktails?
There are two categories of influencer; macro and micro. Macro influencers typically have 100k+ followers. Though this is a large reach, there is often fairly low-end engagement (mostly ‘likes’) with their content. Micro influencers, on the other hand, have a smaller following of between 1000-90k, command far better post engagement and can come across as more authentic and personable.
Since we choose who we follow on social media rather than passively consuming (as with TV advertising), a product suggestion from an influencer can feel more like a recommendation from a friend than a forced, celebrity-backed sales pitch. This is particularly true of smaller, micro influencers.
From a brand’s perspective, this approach means that “rather than paying one ambassador $5K for one post to reach 500K followers, they can now pay 20-30 Influencers for the same price.” 
High-end influencers, usually well-established professional models and artists with a large following, often have an agent who secures this kind of work for their client. Alternatively, companies may reach out to accounts performing well in a niche market. For those trying to start out as influencers though, it’s worth trying a free service like TRIBE. They help connect influencers and brands, provide advice for beginners, and manage the legal and financial aspects on the client’s behalf. In addition, ‘brands can provide direct feedback to users through the app’ .
Here’s a breakdown from Georgie Cavanagh (Head of Creator and Brand Partnerships at TRIBE) of how much you can expect to make per post based on the size of your following.
Now that we know what an influencer is and what they can earn, let’s take a look at how they earn their money.
Sponsored Posts (Social Media/Blog Posts)
Simply put, an influencer shares content featuring a brand or product with their social media following. It could be a one-off post or a series of posts. They can use brand-owned material or create new, unique content.
This is the most common way for influencers to make money, especially when they are starting out.
Sponsored blog posts go a step further. They allow for product reviews, click through links, and therefore bring an audience a stage closer to conversion. More so than on social media, a blogger needs to ensure that the sponsored content fits their personal brand and audience or risk tarnishing their credibility and authenticity.
With this approach though, it is important to be aware of the disclosure guidelines and regulations that apply to the territories you’re advertising to. These can vary from country to country but mostly state that it is the influencer’s responsibility to make it clear to an audience if a post is sponsored.
This is a longer-term partnership between a brand and influencer. A company will usually approach someone who they feel represents their vision and their target audience or market. Whether a macro or micro influencer is most appropriate very much depends on the brand and product.
With affiliate marketing, an influencer recommends or promotes the brand/product on their site and social media accounts. When an online sale is made via this referral, the influencer receives a cut of the profit. This kind of arrangement typically works on a pay-per-sale, pay-per-click or pay-per-lead model. Affiliate deals are rarely the sole source of revenue for an influencer, however, as the income can be less reliable than other revenue streams.
Podcasting is often a cost-effective way to drive revenue since it requires minimal set-up costs and the product is easy to distribute and share. A creator can charge a small subscription fee for access to the content and there’s also the option to host sponsored adverts.
Webinars are, perhaps, a less obvious revenue stream but can again employ a subscription-based approach or raise funds through collaboration with a brand. Dr John Park, for example, runs his ‘DisrupTek’ entrepreneurial business course through subscription paywall app SupaPass. Typically educational in nature, webinars are relatively low-cost and can be live-streamed or pre-recorded depending on what best suits the creator’s schedule.
Physical: Collaborations between brands and influencers are particularly prevalent in the fashion and cosmetics sectors. Brands often release a range of products which an influencer has co-designed or advised on. Kanye West’s ‘Yeezy’ collaboration with Adidas is a prime example of a brand working with a macro influencer, generating huge publicity and sales for both parties. On the micro scale, a brand might offer ‘hand-picks’ on subscription box sites for recipes. Again, it very much depends on what’s the best fit for the brand, influencer, and target audience.
Digital: This is often less about collaboration, though there’s no reason why it can’t be. Influencers can use their creative side to design unique e-products to sell to their followers, generating another revenue stream. It’s about sharing knowledge and expertise through downloadable items such as recipe guides, fitness plans, or e-books. Digital products are still tangible but more immediate than the process of producing physical goods, and the consumer benefits from the immediacy of downloadable content.
There are many valid ways to build your reputation as an influencer and generate an income online - and what mix you use depends heavily on your target audience. However you tackle it, building your presence enough to generate an online revenue stream and figuring out the optimal influencer marketing strategy can be a tricky process but the potential rewards are worth it.
Contact us now to find out how your very own subscription streaming app powered by SupaPass can help you reach your goals and build your brand as an influencer.